Georgia Board of Education approves DeKalb school facilities plan

Druid Hills High School is slated for $50 million in renovations. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

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Druid Hills High School is slated for $50 million in renovations. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

The Georgia Board of Education on Thursday approved the DeKalb County School District facilities plan — including its intent to renovate the aging Druid Hills High School.

The facilities plan became a sticking point for the district after some Druid Hills High students published a video showcasing poor conditions like electrical and plumbing problems at the school. Many community members mobilized in support of upgrading the school. It caught the attention of Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods, who said he wouldn’t recommend the state board approve the plan unless it fixed those problems.

ExploreGeorgia officials tell DeKalb school board to fix Druid Hills High

The plan states the district is eligible for more than $200 million in reimbursement for construction projects districtwide. The district could have missed out on that funding if the board had not approved the plan.

The split DeKalb County Board of Education opted three times not to update the school. The modernization is estimated to cost $50 million.

The board did not commit to the renovation until the state required it to as part of a corrective action plan. The plan also included a list of things that had to be addressed at the school by the end of June, and took the “unprecedented” step of hiring a new adviser to make sure it happened.

ExploreDeKalb school board OKs Druid Hills High updates after state intervenes

State-appointed adviser Tanzy Kilcrease told the state board on Wednesday that the district is on track to addressing the needs identified in the corrective plan.

“(Interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley) has been very receptive, very responsive and we’ve been able to work collaboratively,” Kilcrease said.

The district is also evaluating conditions at each of its schools. DeKalb is the state’s third-largest school district, with nearly 94,000 students.


Timeline: Druid Hills High School

Feb. 25: DeKalb County’s school board rejects plan to update Druid Hills High School.

April 11: Students post video showing poor conditions at the school.

April 18: School board again rejects plan to update the school.

April 25: Georgia school superintendent blames school board for conditions at the school.

April 26: Board Chair Vickie Turner blames then-DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris for the school’s building problems. Watson-Harris is fired later that day.

May 9: School board again rejects plans to update the school. The state tells the district to commit to the modernization or face financial consequences.

May 31: School board unanimously agrees to modernize Druid Hills High.